for the Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester district!
 

Issues & Priorities
Issues & Priorities
Stay Updated
ISSUES & PRIORITIES
Stay Updated


August 26, 2018

Former State Representative Ed McColgan Endorses Ryan

LEEDS, MA - Former State Representative Ed McColgan of Northampton has endorsed Ryan O'Donnell for State Senate, O'Donnell's campaign announced today.

"Ryan has the legislative experience we need in our next State Senator," said McColgan. "He has proven he can get things done for people by working with his colleagues on the City Council, and the same skills are required to be an effective legislator on Beacon Hill. I'm voting for Ryan because I know he's ready to fight for our interests in Western Mass and get results."

Before McColgan served in the House of Representatives, he served as the City Councilor for Ward 4 in Northampton.

Ryan O'Donnell, currently the President of the Northampton City Council, is running as a write-in candidate in the Democratic primary for State Senator. More at www.WriteInRyan.org.


August 23, 2018

O'Donnell Says He Would Hold an Annual Municipal Conference Like Stan Rosenberg

NORTHAMPTON - Ryan O'Donnell announced today that if elected to the State Senate, he would continue Senator Stan Rosenberg's tradition of holding an annual conference for municipal officials and those active in local government.

"A major part of the State Senate job that I don't hear many people talking about is the need to work directly with our cities and towns," said O'Donnell. "Rural communities in particular rely on their State Senator for help with grants, infrastructure and economic development projects. Sen. Rosenberg made a serious commitment to our communities in this way for many years.

"As a municipal official myself, I know how indispensable this part of being a State Senator is. That is why, if elected, I would hope to continue the practice that Sen. Rosenberg originated of convening local officials annually to discuss major issues facing Western Massachusetts. These events are opportunities to learn from each other and perhaps even find new legislative and regional solutions.

"I sometimes hear that the responsibilities of a State Senator are only two things -- legislation and the budget. In fact, there are many other important aspects of this job that, while they may not be as glamorous, are at least as important. Working with cities and towns is a major one, and constituent service is another. We need a State Senator who will do all of these things. Our region depends on it."

Local officials who have endorsed O'Donnell include Hadley Selectboard Member Molly Keegan, Amherst Selectboard Member Alisa Brewer, Greenfield City Councilor Doug Mayo and Northampton City Councilors Bill Dwight, Gina-Louise Sciarra, Jim Nash and Alisa Klein as well as Northampton School Committee Member Fallon.

Ryan O'Donnell, currently the President of the Northampton City Council, is running as a write-in candidate in the Democratic primary for State Senator. More at www.WriteInRyan.org.


August 12, 2018

O'Donnell Criticizes Legislature's Protection of Internet Monopolies, Backs "Public Option" for Broadband Access

NORTHAMPTON - State Senate candidate Ryan O'Donnell criticized a provision of the House and Senate's economic development bill today, following its signing by the Governor on Friday, saying that Massachusetts should not protect Internet Service Provider (ISP) monopolies like Comcast from competition from municipally-owned utilities.

"We need broadband in every community," said O'Donnell. "The economy is changing, and our small towns are being left behind. If we want to create jobs in places that have lost them, encourage younger people to live in rural areas, and increase the tax base of these communities, then we can't afford not to have broadband. One of the best options towns have is creating municipally-owned broadband utilities - what some call a 'public option' for the internet."

O'Donnell said that in the economic development bill signed in part by the Governor on Friday (House Bill 4732), the telecom industry reportedly fought a provision to clarify the power of publicly-owned broadband utilities to provide service across town lines. So-called "edge cases" are situations in which homes or businesses in one town might be more readily serviced by an internet connection from a different town because of geography. Ultimately, the legislation did allow cross-border connections, but only to areas without an existing ISP.

"Clarifying that public networks can cross borders was definitely a good thing," said O'Donnell. "Unfortunately, the wording of the provision also helps shelter companies like Comcast from future competition from town-owned utilities. These companies may be afraid that they might one day have to compete with public broadband.

"The Legislature should create policies to encourage public broadband in Massachusetts, not just in the places where broadband is currently lacking, but in many communities. Competition brings down prices and improves service for people in ways monopolies cannot."

O'Donnell also noted that in the wake of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to repeal net neutrality, municipally-operated broadband utilities can take the lead in ensuring equal access to the internet, as well as service to low-income people.

In the same economic development bill, the Governor also vetoed a commission that would have studied hindrances to developing last-mile broadband internet connections in rural communities (Section 62 in the bill).

Ryan O'Donnell, currently the President of the Northampton City Council, is running as a write-in candidate in the Democratic primary for State Senator. More at www.WriteInRyan.org.


August 5, 2018

O'Donnell Denounces Beacon Hill Backroom Dealing, Proposes Transparency for House-Senate Conference Committees and Restrictions on Lobbyists

NORTHAMPTON - In the wake of major decisions on energy, healthcare and education that many claimed were overly influenced by business groups on Beacon Hill, State Senate candidate Ryan O'Donnell said today that all legislative conference committees should be open to the public, and that lobbyists should be more strongly regulated.

On Monday, August 6th, O'Donnell will be available at these times and places to take questions from reporters and the public: 12:00 PM - Northampton, at Pulaski Park near the stage. 2:00 PM - Amherst, on the Common across from Town Hall.

"Call it the Kocot Rule," said O'Donnell. "When Rep. Peter Kocot was working on transparency reform legislation in 2016, he opened his six-member conference committee up to the public, sending a powerful message about what good government should be.

"House-Senate conference committees are where many important policy decisions are made, and frankly, where good ideas often perish. These committees should always be open and transparent. Now is the time to send a new generation of public servants to the State House who will be reformers and work to change the status quo."

Today, conference committees negotiating differences in legislation between the House and Senate tend to work in secret. In July, the AP reported that "no fewer than 10 conference committees are meeting behind closed doors to hash out compromises..." The Joint Rules of the House and Senate currently allow for a majority vote to close such conference committees to the public (Rule 1A), and the longstanding practice is indeed for legislators to close them.

Separately, O'Donnell called for a rewrite of the "revolving door" ethics law that prevents legislators from taking jobs as lobbyists before a one year waiting period, saying he would introduce legislation to extend the waiting period to at least five years. (See: MGL Ch 268A, Sec. 5.)

"Legislators too often convert their public service into lucrative lobbying jobs," said O'Donnell. "This is a major, ongoing problem on Beacon Hill. If we want good policy outcomes, we are going to have to change the system."

The Open Meeting Law, which applies to local officials, does not apply to the Legislature. That law provides that a majority of a public body may not deliberate outside of public session on matters within its jurisdiction. O'Donnell also said it might be worth discussing extending a form of the law to House-Senate conference committees.

The energy bill recently approved by the Legislature at the end of the 2018 formal session represented the incremental approach favored by business interests and the utility industry, omitting important features such as a carbon fee and greater investment in wind and solar. Meanwhile, no agreement was found on important education or healthcare reform legislation.

Ryan O'Donnell, currently the President of the Northampton City Council, is running as a write-in candidate in the Democratic primary for State Senator. More at www.WriteInRyan.org.


August 9, 2018

Statement on De Facto Exclusion from Leverett Debate

NORTHAMPTON - Today, State Senate candidate Ryan O'Donnell made this statement regarding the August 16th State Senate debate sponsored by the Leverett Democratic Town Committee:

"It is unfortunate that this debate was scheduled for the exact day and time when I will be performing my duties as Council President at a meeting of the Northampton City Council, making it impossible for me to participate.

"Given that the debate was scheduled 50 days in advance, the Democratic Town Committee certainly had time to find an alternative after I first explained the conflict. Regrettably, no action was taken, and the debate is still scheduled for August 16th at 7:00 PM, when I must be in Northampton.

"I am the only person in this race with elected, legislative experience, and naturally, my job as City Councilor comes first. However, my concern is that in this important election, voters should be able to hear from all the candidates and decide who will serve them best. I am disappointed that this will not be the case at the Leverett forum.

"While I do not question the motivations of the Democratic Town Committee, I am concerned that any local political organization would be comfortable with such a decision, and I would think voters might also be concerned. As I have said throughout this campaign, I believe the political establishment in Massachusetts needs significant change and reform, from Beacon Hill to the local level.

"I felt the need to make this statement so that Leverett residents and the public know why I cannot be there on August 16."

O'Donnell said he hoped to compensate for his de facto exclusion from the forum by organizing a separate event in Leverett or Amherst as an opportunity for people to talk informally with him about the issues.

Ryan O'Donnell is running as a write-in candidate in the Democratic primary for State Senator. More at www.WriteInRyan.org.


July 29, 2018

With a Fee on Uber and Lyft, O'Donnell Proposes $30 Million Increase for Regional Transit Authorities like the PVTA and FRTA

NORTHAMPTON - Today, State Senate candidate Ryan O'Donnell outlined a proposal to increase funding for the state's struggling regional transit authorities by assessing a fee on companies like Uber and Lyft.

On Monday, July 30th, O'Donnell will be available at these times and places to take questions from reporters and the public: 12:00 PM - Northampton, at the Pulaski Park bus stop. 2:00 PM - Greenfield, outside the Olver Transit Center.

"Right now we are dramatically underfunding regional transit authorities across the Commonwealth, and Western Mass is feeling the pain," said O'Donnell. "The increase included in the FY19 budget is just not going to be enough to reverse the death spirals that many regional transit authorities find themselves in.

"The FRTA still has no weekend service. The PVTA is raising fares and cutting routes. The status quo is not working. We need some new ideas on the table to create a dedicated mechanism to fund regional transit."

To accomplish this, O'Donnell suggested assessing a fee on each ride in a transportation network company (TNC) vehicle like those operated by Uber and Lyft.

"The fee isn't arbitrary," said O'Donnell. "Companies like Uber and Lyft are competing directly with public transit, perhaps to a more significant degree than they are competing with the taxi industry. I think a small fee is totally justifiable when you consider the value of public transit within our overall transportation system."

O'Donnell suggested a fee somewhere between 30 to 50 cents per ride, which would be on top of an existing 20-cent fee the state already collects for other purposes. Based on the 64.8 million rides taken in Massachusetts in 2017, this would generate roughly $20 to $30 million in new revenue for regional transit.

By comparison, the city of Chicago currently charges a 67-cent fee on rides.

O'Donnell said that Uber and Lyft have been shown to reduce public transit ridership. In February of this year, a report by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council stated that "ride-hailing trips are replacing more sustainable modes of transportation (transit, walking, and biking) at an alarming rate." The report found that 42% of those surveyed would have taken public transit if ride-hailing had not been available.

O'Donnell said that with the fee, the Legislature could provide a substantial increase in funding beyond the $88 million recently included in the state budget for all 15 RTAs across Massachusetts.

"These agencies should be able to meet the actual needs of the communities they serve," said O'Donnell. "The fact that the Fair Share Amendment is no longer a viable way to raise revenue does not absolve the Legislature of the responsibility to find alternatives. In the State Senate, I will support efforts to establish a progressive income tax that asks millionaires to pay more. But in the meantime, I think we still have to try and solve the problems people are facing every day."

Ryan O'Donnell, currently the President of the Northampton City Council, is running as a write-in candidate in the Democratic primary for State Senator. More at www.WriteInRyan.org.


MORE ABOUT RYAN


How to Write in Ryan

IF YOU LIVE IN:
Amherst, Bernardston, Deerfield, Erving, Gill, Greenfield, Hadley, Hatfield, Northampton, Northfield, Orange, Pelham, South Hadley, or Sunderland...



IF YOU LIVE IN:
Colrain, Leverett, Leyden, Montague, New Salem, Royalston, Shutesbury, Warwick, Wendell, or Whately...


Paid for and authorized by the O'Donnell Campaign Committee